With six games to go in May, the Indians were 9-13, suffering from on-going issues from their bullpen despite being the top scoring club in all of baseball at the time. Dealing with a tough stretch of the schedule, the team gave away several potential wins and struggled to show consistent playoff-caliber play.
As the calendar flipped to June, the Indians were 15-13. The offense was still producing. The starting pitching was still excelling overall, with some occasional bumps to be expected. The bullpen was still bad. That has not changed.
For seven innings, the Cleveland Indians pitching staff performed just as they had over the last year and a half, riding strong starting pitching before turning the game over to the reliable arms in the bullpen.
Unfortunately for the Indians, this is 2018 and that reliable relief corps has been anything but. With six outs to go, the Houston Astros rallied back from a 2-0 deficit through seven innings with a four-run eighth and then tacked on seven more runs in the ninth to embarrass the Indians, 11-2, at Progressive Field on Friday night.
Adam Plutko held the Chicago Cubs hitless through the first six innings of his second career start and an RBI-single from Michael Brantley provided the game’s only run in a 1-0 shutout by the Cleveland Indians from Wrigley Field on Wednesday night.
The respective top scoring teams in each league during the month of May played their final game of the season against one another on Wednesday, but the two high-scoring offenses combined for just one run in a well-pitched ball game between Plutko and Cubs veteran Jon Lester.
Cleveland sports fans are going to want a do-over of Tuesday’s efforts.
While the NBA’s Cavs were falling two games behind the Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals from Boston, the Indians blew two separate four-run leads and a five-run edge later, squandered several bases loaded opportunities, and saw the bullpen implode again in the late innings as a big lead turned into a close game and ended in disaster, as the Detroit Tigers rallied several times and scored the final six runs to win an ugly 9-8 final from Comerica Park.
Some games are hard to recap and Tuesday was a prime example. The Indians (20-21) got off to a great start in the first inning, giving Josh Tomlin plenty of support before he even took the mound. Given the fact that he had not pitched since May 4 and that he has been home-run-happy this season, a big early lead seemed imperative for the Tribe to have any sort of shot at success in the Motor City. They got it, but it would not be enough.
A back-and-forth game between the Indians and Royals went in favor of Kansas City as the visiting club rallied for six unanswered runs to defeat the Tribe, 10-9, from Progressive Field on Friday night.
The Indians (18-19) took an early lead and reclaimed it with a six-run fourth inning, but Cleveland’s pitching could not slow down the Kansas City (13-25) offense, which chipped away with runs in three straight innings to take the lead for good in the seventh on a big home run off of Andrew Miller.
Over the last two weeks, the Cleveland Indians have faced a harsh reminder of the significance that Andrew Miller has on the team’s success as the bullpen has floundered in his absence while he dealt with a left hamstring strain.
The relief staff can begin to settle back in to its old roles, or at least they can within a few more days, as the Indians activated their All-Star left-hander from the 10-day disabled list and placed fellow southpaw Tyler Olson on paternity leave.
Olson could be away from the club anywhere from one to three days as a result of his placement on the temporary list.
The Cleveland Indians announced on Thursday that All-Star left-hander Andrew Miller has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain.
In a set of corresponding roster moves that affected Triple-A Columbus, the Indians purchased the contract of left-hander Jeff Beliveau from the Clippers and created a spot on the 40-man roster by designating fellow southpaw bullpen mate Jack Leathersich for assignment.
Trevor Bauer gave the Cleveland Indians six and two-thirds innings of one-run baseball and his offense backed him with three solo home runs in a 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.
It was a fantastic night in downtown Cleveland, where both of its active sports teams put together three-point wins in their respective contests in the Gateway Complex (the neighboring Cleveland Cavaliers won Game 5 of their first round playoff series with the Indiana Pacers on a “walk-off” three-pointer by LeBron James). Bauer gave Tribe fans present another quality pitching performance on the mound, and while the offense struggled to put together much against Chicago starter Jon Lester, they made their swings count when they needed it the most.
A two-run home run by Yonder Alonso in the second inning proved to be the difference as Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco and the Indians bullpen made the blast stand in a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night.
The Indians (12-8) wrapped up their unusual six-game road trip with a 4-2 mark, splitting their series in San Juan with the Minnesota Twins before taking three of four from Baltimore from their home at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Early offense would be the story for both clubs, but both lineups would go largely dormant in what became a game dominated by quality pitching on both sides of the slate.
The Indians could not protect an early 4-0 lead as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied with four runs in the fourth inning off of starter Mike Clevinger and tacked on four more runs late against the Cleveland bullpen to claim an 8-4 win in the series opener on Friday from Progressive Field.
The two-run home run had been an issue in each of Corey Kluber’s first two starts. On Monday night, it was his best friend. A key and needed blast from Bradley Zimmer in the fifth inning gave the Indians’ ace just enough run support and his eight innings of dominant pitching gave Cleveland a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on another chilly day from Progressive Field.
In his defense of his second Cy Young Award, Kluber has looked like a pitcher with postseason aspirations and more hardware in mind as he has put up impressive numbers once again on the mound for the Tribe. But despite his best efforts, the Indians had dropped both of his first two starts as two-run home runs (one by Seattle’s Nelson Cruz in the season opener and another by Los Angeles’ Shohei Ohtani in his second start) off of the right-hander and minimal run support had kept Kluber out of the win column. That changed on Monday, as while the Tribe bats remained ice cold on another frigid night in Cleveland, he made the two runs of support that he received stand up as the Indians (5-5) moved back to .500 with their first consecutive wins of the 2018 campaign.
In a game that featured a pair of the top arms in the American League in Indians right-hander Carlos Carrasco and Mariners left-hander James Paxton, it was offense that would prove to be the story of the day. Neither pitcher would last six innings and both would be tagged for all of the runs scored on the afternoon.